Keeping with my pledge

Dear Editor:

In keeping with my pledge to expose if not stop the methods politicians employ in their attempt to interfere and/or influence Board of Education’s decisions, I feel compelled to express my feelings on a projected school expansion bond issue.

First let me say that I am of the understanding that it is the full board membership who makes the decisions as to (1) a school expansion bond issue; (2) the amount of the bond; and (3) the date of the referendum. I do not believe that this is the arbitrary decision of a committee member, committee chairperson, vice-president or president of the board.

I also believe that to the board making any such decision there should be a report submitted by the committee to the full board; an opportunity for the members to review the report, and a full discussion by the full membership of the board as to the contents and conclusions of the report. I also believe that there should be public input by having a hearing open to the public on the issue. Board members, I believe that this is how a democracy works.

According to an article appearing on December 16th Mr. Rittberg is quoted as follows: “This hasn’t come out of committee yet and we have no numbers. But we do know the state will require us to address things in the model, and that we won’t be putting this up for a vote during the school year. This won’t happen in January or February.”

When Rittberg said: “WE have no numbers but WE know the state will require US to address things in the model, and that WE won’t be putting this up for a vote during the school year, I assume that he was referring to We the members of the board and US the members of the board. I don’t remember WE the board adopted giving Mr. Rittberg the authority to speak for US the board. I also know of no resolution that authorizes a committee member to release information to the press before presenting such information to us the board.

My understanding is that the “board” works as a unit and no member makes a unilateral decision.

The article in the paper is a clear example of the pitfalls that exist when speaking prematurely to the press. In the article our president is referenced as saying that WE, the district, missed the opportunity to collect state rebates. I do not know if the reporter told Mr. Rittberg of these comments by the president but shortly after the comments by the president as to missing the opportunity to collect on rebates Mr. Rittberg is quoted as saying that WE, the district, still has a “window of opportunity” in which to get rebates. I do not believe that a contradiction of this magnitude is helpful to the board’s image. It seems to give the impression that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

As I understand the phrase, “window of opportunity” this is a reference to a specific short time period within which to act for something to take place. Mr. Rittberg, if this is what you are referring to I would ask you to please tell us what time period is there and what is the basis for this conclusion. If you were not referring to a time period when you used the phrase then please let us know what you meant by “window of opportunity.”

I understand that at times there may be an issue of mutual interest that necessitates either discussions with officials from town hall or that we may request the opinion of the position of the elected officials from town hall. However, there is a distinction between discussions, requesting an opinion and being told how to proceed. Also, I believe that a full board should be advised as to any position which town hall may have on an exclusive of what is principally a school issue.

I shall reserve my comments as to the substance of school expansion until after WE receive the report from the committee and have had the opportunity to study and review the report.

Tom Troyer


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group